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We Have the War Upon Us: The Onset of the Civil War, November 1860-April 1861 Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 11, 2012
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“Cooper suggests Lincoln might have forestalled the march toward secession by speaking out before his inaugural, but he refused and was as firmly opposed to compromise as the rest of his party. . . . The book gains momentum as the crisis deepens and Cooper describes the enormous pressures on Lincoln as he agonized whether to reinforce beleaguered Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.” —Seattle Times¶
“In this compelling blend of crisp narrative and shrewd analysis, William J. Cooper examines the most profound crisis of the antebellum American Union through the eyes of the contesting political camps. The result is a triumph of balanced, wise, and genuinely fresh historical writing: a book that brilliantly captures the uncertainty, the search for compromise, and the role of contingency during these fraught months.” —Richard Carwardine, author of Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power
“We Have the War Upon Us is the best survey of the secession crisis published in a generation. There is no more important question than how the Union fell apart in the wake of Abraham Lincoln’s election in November 1860. Cooper answers it with a clarity that comes only after years of research and thought. This is a book for scholars to ponder, but for all interested readers to enjoy.” —James Oakes, author of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861—1865
“William J. Cooper’s superb new book reminds us that whatever the influence of vast political, social, and economic forces, history is ultimately the story of human beings making decisions based on flawed perceptions and imperfect knowledge. This powerful narrative will keep readers enthralled even though they know the outcome. Here moderates such as John J. Crittenden and William H. Seward share the stage with Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, radical Republicans, and southern fire-eaters. Rejecting an irrepressible conflict interpretation, Cooper shows how the partisan, ideological, and sectional interests of political leaders gradually drove the nation toward the abyss. This sobering work recaptures the anguish of the nation’s greatest crisis and surely holds lessons for our own time.” —George C. Rable, author of God’s Almost Chosen Peoples: A Religious History of the American Civil War
“Written with characteristic panache, deeply researched, and replete with shrewd judgments and welcome fresh perspectives, Cooper’s richly detailed study of the secession crisis should delight fellow scholars and general readers alike. It’s a gem of a book.” —Michael F. Holt, author of By One Vote: The Disputed Presidential Election of 1876
“Written from the perspectives of Americans who experienced the efforts to forestall disunion and war during the five months between November 1860 and April 1861 and could not know the full consequences of their actions, this book captures the drama and tensions of those perilous times. Especially noteworthy is Cooper’s treatment of William H. Seward, whose struggles to patch together a compromise form the main thread running through this important book.” —James M. McPherson, author of Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief
“A compelling and exciting narrative of the tumultuous six months between Lincoln’s election and the cannonading of Fort Sumter. . . . [Cooper] weaves this story not just through the eyes of Southern ‘fire-eaters’ and Northern Radicals, but examines the roles Northern and Southern conservatives and moderates played in the crisis as well. The result reads more like a political thriller than a historical textbook, though it excels as both. . . . A superb history of how faction and party brought about disunion and war.” —Armchair General
“Drawing on his wide knowledge of the time period, Cooper clearly enumerates the many ways the Civil War could have been avoided and how many people were clueless as to the real threat, especially Lincoln. Illuminating Civil War history from an expert in the field.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Cooper leaves no stone unturned as he explores the hard decisions and compromises leading up to the war, beginning with the way Lincoln’s election changed the face of American politics. . . . Cooper’s research is thorough and unbiased, assigning credit and blame on all sides. . . . Civil War buffs will appreciate the expert examination of the period.” —Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
The many efforts at reconciliation are depicted here in detail, and show the desperate lengths to which good men, North and South, were willing to go to save their beloved Union.
There are places where the narrative bogs down in detail, such as the examination of the individual southern states and their debates about secession. Still, this is an important and highly informative book.
These are just a few of the thought-provoking issues raised in Dr. Cooper's book. Like the excellent college professor that he is, he doesn't answer these questions for you but lets you draw your own conclusions with the research that he presents.
This book is very readable and I found it to be a real honest-to-goodness page turner! That is much to say for a book that I would classify as an excellently researched academic history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Really enjoying this book, covering the deliberations North and South between Lincoln's election and the beginning of the American Civil War. Read morePublished 3 months ago by T. Janke
A thorough history of American politics and culture in the antebellum period.Published 22 months ago by James Richardson Sprouse
Notwithstanding my criticism, I would urge those interested in the period to read the book. It offers a detailed, lucid, often persuasive account of a critical episode. Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Peter
I reserved reading other's comments until I was ready to offer my own. As I read many criticize what they see as the author's bias it reminds me of our current state of political... Read morePublished on July 11, 2013 by Shrink Washington
This is a very concise and thorough walk through the period before the Civil War. (November 1860-April 1861) If you are history buff, you probably know everything in this book. Read morePublished on March 28, 2013 by 4moreshelflife
I got this book as a birthday present. I'm familiar with the subject as I'm a member of multiple Civil War Roundtables. Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by Stanley R. Schneider
Most of us know the basics of what happened during the Civil War. Very few know the entire proceeding leading up to the war. One of the better books I have read.Published on February 26, 2013 by Francis L. Greaves
The book is a picture of the dysfunctional legislature of 1860, sound familiar? As the congressmen dithered and posed the country was plummeting toward civil war. Read morePublished on January 12, 2013 by Amazon Customer